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Enjoy Free Summertime Concerts Thanks to Iowa's Band Law!
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Enjoy Free Summertime Concerts Thanks to Iowa's Band Law!

You may have heard of Karl King, who wrote many famous band marches including the Barnum & Bailey's Circus March. In 1920, King settled in Fort Dodge and the next year lobbied the Iowa legislature to pass the Iowa Band Law, which allows cities to pass a referendum earmarking a portion of taxes to fund a municipal band. Today, many Iowa cities as big as Cedar Rapids and as small as Pella rely on this law to fund their summertime concerts.

Usually held outdoors, these concerts offer residents the opportunity to socialize and enjoy free live music. Many cities combine the concerts with other family-friendly activities. For instance, the city of Pella presents themed "Thursday Nights in Pella" in June and July with children's games, food vendors, and other activities in the town square culminating in a concert by the Pella City Band.  I've played in this band for a number of years. The band, led by a retired high school band teacher, rehearses on Wednesday evenings and performs Thursdays. Band members range in age from middle school to octogenarians. For musicians, the community band provides an opportunity to continue playing an instrument and to socialize with fellow musicians. For the audience, it's a chance to hear familiar marches, Broadway and movie tunes, and instrumental and vocal soloists, all in an informal, picnic-type setting.

Check your local newspaper or the internet to see if your city sponsors municipal band concerts in the summer, then take the family and enjoy!

Note: although it's not common for municipal bands to play in winter months, the Karl L. King Municipal Band of Fort Dodge performs several times outside the winter months in addition to their Sunday night summer concerts. Here is a video I made of the band performing a Karl King classic on Feb. 19, 2017:


Cover photo credit: Thursdays in Pella Facebook Page

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  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    Here's to the music! Thanks for contributing to the Travel Iowa blog!
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